Now that I’ve been back in the United States for a couple of weeks, I’ve had a chance to recover from the jet lag (which is no joke!) and reflect on the major things I learned during this incredible trip. The reason for the trip was to see the Christian work which is currently going on in Thailand and seek God’s will for my church in how we might best partner with one or more of the missionaries over there in the future. With that in mind, I believe my thoughts can be summed up in three words:
- NEED: The need for the gospel is great in Thailand and in Southeast Asia as a whole. By most counts, only between 0.30% and 0.40% of Thais are Christian. That means that less than one-half of one percent are Christian in a country with a population of 69 million people. To be considered a people that has been “reached,” 5% of the population must be Christian. In number terms, that means that the number of Christians needs to grow from less than 345,000 now to 3.45 million. As Jesus said, “the fields are white for harvest.” (John 4:35-36)
- OPPORTUNITY: Those numbers present an opportunity to see amazing things happen, of course. But the other thing that stands out to me about the Thai people is how open they are to discussing spiritual matters and how easy they are to talk to about Jesus. Thailand is known as “The land of smiles” (which is literally what “thailand” translates to) for a reason. They pride themselves on kindness and hospitality. Although many we talked to were skeptical, none seemed uninterested or the least bit offended by our message. While we have to be careful when presenting the gospel that they understand that Jesus is not just another God to add to all of their idols, it is not difficult to find those to share the gospel with. Because of this, I could see God using Thai Christians as very effective missionaries to their neighboring countries which are much more closed to the gospel right now and harder to reach. So Thailand might be a great starting point for the whole region.
- INSPIRATION: Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to share just how impressed I am with all that God is doing through faithful servants in Thailand already. We met a large number of full-time missionaries along with journeymen and journeywomen sent for two years to Thailand through the International Mission Board (IMB) and I was so inspired by every single one of them. I can’t wait to see what God will do through the service of these faithful people!
Finally, thank you to all of you who were praying for us during this trip. We knew that we were prayed for especially in the fact that through nine flights we had no delays, no lost luggage, and no logistical problems (other than wandering aimlessly around the Bangkok airport a few times trying to figure out where we needed to go on the way back) and the fact that no one on our team got sick or injured in the least while we were there. I would ask you to continue to pray for Thailand and for our church as we seek God’s guidance on how best to proceed in that area of the world.